Sir Julian Brazier MP has today written to the Attorney General, asking for a review of the sentence handed down to brothel keeper, Mr Ten Gao at Canterbury Court on 11th April.
Text of the letter below:
“Regina v Ten Gao
I am writing with regard to the suspended sentence handed down to Mr Teng Gao by Judge Rupert Lowe at Canterbury Crown Court on 11th April.
Mr Gao, who was smuggled into Britain illegally some years ago, was running a brothel at 13 North Lane, Seasalter, Whitstable, which was apparently staffed by trafficked women, who complained about being exploited - one of the women alleged that she had been drugged.
I attach a copy of the letter which the Medaille Trust is sending you. The Medaille Trust is an outstanding charity that works on behalf of trafficked women and they share my deep concern about the fact that a custodial sentence was not handed down to Mr Gao. If men like this, who prey on the most vulnerable in society are not to be incarcerated, then the State seems to me to be abandoning their victims.
I would be very grateful if you could use your power to refer this sentence for review.”
Sir Julian added: “A further advantage of a custodial sentence is that it should result in the deportation of Mr Gao.”
LETTER TO ATTORNEY GENERAL
18 April 2017
Re: Lenient Sentencing of brothel owner
As both a lawyer working with trafficked victims and a trustee of the Medaille Trust, I am writing to you to express my concern at the sentence awarded by Circuit Judge Rupert Lowe at the end of a case, which I believe to be Regina v Teng Gao, heard at Canterbury Crown Court last week and to appeal against the lenient sentencing that was provided to the defendant in this matter.
The essence of the case is the use of premises at 13 North Lane in Wincheap, Canterbury as a brothel for a period of, at least, seven months. Further, publicly available details of the case appear to indicate Mr Teng Gao initially lied to the authorities about his actions and that the case came to the attention of the police when one of the women working at the premises begged a ‘client’ to tell the authorities about her predicament and alleged the use of drugs to control her.
Judge Lowe, presiding over this case, is recorded as having said in Court: ‘The danger of brothels of this kind is that the ladies who work there are often trafficked and moved from one establishment to another. Week by week, often speaking little or no English and making little money, they work in humiliating circumstances and often under heavy debt and sometimes drugged’ He, according to press reports told Mr Teng Gao: ‘you must have known that women in the establishment were being savagely exploited’, adding that a custodial sentence had been considered.
Whilst the above statement indicates that Judge Lowe has considered the basic principal of exploitation and the impact upon the victims, it seems that the sentence imposed is not correlative to his guiding statements and therefore I consider that the sentence is unduly lenient as it seems to “fall outside the range of sentences which the judge, applying his mind to all the relevant factors, could reasonably consider appropriate" (Attorney General's Reference number 4 of 1989 (1990)). Further there does not seem to have been any due consideration of the sentencing periods in the Sexual Offences Act 2003 and the provisions relating to “keeping a brothel”.
I duly request that the Attorney General refer this matter to the Court of Appeal in accordance with this his powers under sections 35 and 36 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988 on the basis that the sentencing in relation to the case was unduly lenient. I request this on the following grounds:
- This does not align with the protections that are to be provided to victims of trafficked situations under the Modern Slavery Act 2015;
- This does not align with the Prime Minister’s general stance on organised crime, slavery and trafficking;
- Such a lenient sentence is unlikely to deter the defendant from re-offending or from others from committing a similar offence;
- This does not send a positive message to vulnerable women and especially those where language is restricted and there may be potential migrant status issues;
- This provides a negative message for communities in Canterbury and Kent generally that organised prostitution and exploitation is acceptable.
I thus again, for the reasons cited above, gratefully request that you consider this letter and invoke the powers placed upon you to appeal the sentencing in relation to the above case.